Friday, June 18, 2010

A Frozen Treat To Make Your Taste Buds Pop!

Nothing refreshes in the summer better than a tasty frozen treat on a stick! Here's a delicious ice pop that's not only great tasting, but also a healthy alternative to those boxes of artificially colored sugary water pops you find at the grocery store!

These Mango-Lassi pops combine the summery taste of fresh mango, with yogurt, buttermilk and a small amount of fresh honey!

In the bowl of a food processor or blender, blend 2 cups of ripe mango chunks (can be fresh or frozen) until it becomes a very fine paste.

To that, add 1/2 cup of plain yogurt, 1/2 cup of buttermilk, 1 tablespoon of honey and a pinch of salt. Blend until pale orange and very smooth.

Fill popsicle molds to about 1/4" from the top.

Cover and freeze for about an hour. Then insert the popsicle sticks and freeze for another 8 hours.

Dip the mold in warm water for a few seconds to help dislodge the pops! Enjoy!!

Mario's Weekend Cooking Challange: Mexican Chocolate Cake

Mario's Weekend Cooking Challenge is a Facebook Group for people to get together, once a month and cook the same recipe, compare notes and discuss outcomes. It is put together by Mario Bosquez host of "Living Today" on Martha Stewart Living Radio, Sirius 112 & XM 157
This month's weekend Cooking Challenge we were given a choice of 2 desserts to prepare. A Mexican Chocolate Cake or Magnolia's Famous Banana Pudding. Since I had already made the Banana Pudding a month back, I chose to make the Mexican Chocolate Cake.
This simple cake is easily put together and what makes it different from your regular chocolate cake is the addition of cinnamon which comes through nicely and compliments the chocolate very well!
The recipe is courtesy of Mario Bosquez, himself, creator of the Weekend Cooking Challenge, and can be found here: Mario Bosquez's Mexican Chocolate Cake
Please note: the recipe calls for 1 stick of margarine and 1/2 cup oil. I substituted 2 sticks of unsalted butter and the cake turned out perfectly. Other ingredients include cocoa, flour, sugar, buttermilk, eggs, cinnamon & vanilla.

Start out by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. Combine your butter (or margarine & oil) along with the cocoa and some water in a sauce pan and heat until melted.

In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and mix well.

Combine that with the chocolate mixture and pour into a buttered 12" x 18" cake pan or a nice ceramic baking dish. I've used this lovely fluted oval "oven-to-table" baking dish.

Bake the cake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cake cool on a wire rack while you prepare the icing.

The icing, again another quick recipe, combines cocoa, butter, milk, vanilla, chopped pecans and confectioners sugar.

In a saucepan, combine your butter, cocoa and milk on medium heat just until the butter is melted and small bubbles form around the sides of the pan. Remove from heat.

Stir in vanilla and pecans, then your confectioner's sugar. As recommended by Mario, use only about 3/4 lb of the sugar and it won't be overly sweet.

While the cake is slightly warm, pour the icing over the cake and spread evenly. Decorate the edge with pecan halves, if desired. This cake is best enjoyed still slightly warm or at room temperature!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Bananas Foster Meets Upside-Down Cake!

I found this recipe while thumbing through a recent newspaper insert. I love bananas and this recipe is adapted from the rich New Orleans dessert of flaming bananas served with vanilla ice cream.

Visitors to "The Mixing Bowl" may remember when I made the actual dessert of Bananas Foster. That was so enjoyable that I knew this cake was to be just as good and it did not disappoint!

The recipe can be found in the book "Burger Parties" by James McNair and Jeffrey Starr.

First step is to preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9" round cake pan and set aside.

Combine, in a saucepan, 1/4 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature, 1/2 cup of firmly packed dark brown sugar, 1/4 cup dark rum and 3/4 teas. cinnamon. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until the butter and sugar are melted, about 3 minute. Pour into the prepared cake pan.

Arrange enough banana slices to fit, snugly, in one layer over the sugar/butter mixture. About 2-1/2 cups of 1/4" sliced bananas.

In a separate bowl, combine 1-1/2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1-1/2 teas. baking powder and 1/2 teas. salt, whisk together. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together 1 stick of softened unsalted butter and 3/4 cup of granulated sugar on medium speed, for about 5 minutes. Add 2 eggs and 1 teas. of pure vanilla extract, mix until well combined. On low-speed, add about 1/3 the flour mixture, then 1/4 cup of milk, another 1/3 of the flour, another 1/4 cup of milk, the remaining flour. Mix until combined after each addition. Do not over mix! Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan (scraping the bowl well) and spread evenly over the bananas.

Bake until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for about 2 minutes.

Run a paring knife around the inside on the pan to loosen the cake sides. Invert the cake onto a wide serving plate, and lift off the pan, the sauce should run down the sides of the cake.
Cut into wedges and serve with scoops of the best vanilla ice cream! Serve this at your next barbecue or if you're just feeling like you need a lift!